Gulf Power Company
|Gulf Power Company|
|Founded||October 29, 1925|
|Founder||Southeastern Power & Light Company|
|Headquarters|| One Energy Place|
|Key people||Mark Crosswhite, President|
Gulf Power Company provides electricity to retail customers in 8 counties in Northwest Florida. The company also provides wholesale electricity to parts of Jackson County. It is a subsidiary of the Southern Company.
Gulf Power's corporate headquarters are at One Energy Place along Pensacola Bay. Gulf Power is the largest taxpayer in Escambia County and the company employs more than 1,400 people, with more than half working in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
Gulf Power and its employees annually contribute to educational, civic, charitable and economic development efforts, giving more than $3 million in 2009 and countless volunteer hours to help build strong communities across Northwest Florida.
Mark Crosswhite has been president and CEO of Gulf Power since January 2011.
The origins of electrical utilities in Pensacola can be traced back to June 3, 1887, when the State of Florida incorporated the Pensacola Electric Company. The city's first electrical generating plant was constructed near Baylen and Cedar Streets, and the first electric lights were powered on at 7:00 p.m. on December 10, 1888. Within six months the plant was operating at full capacity, and it was replaced by a larger plant at Barracks and Main.
In 1906 the Pensacola Electric Company acquired the city's streetcar system and the Escambia County Street Electric Light & Power Company. The company was itself purchased by the Southeastern Power and Light Company on February 10, 1925.
The Gulf Power Company was organized on October 29, 1925 as a subsidiary of the Southeastern Power & Light holding company, serving areas east of Pensacola. After acquiring the assets of the Chipley Light & Power Company, it became an operating public utility on February 6, 1926. Southeastern merged its two Northwest Florida subsidiaries in May 1927, keeping the Gulf Power name. The company initially had 7,366 customers.
On September 6, 1926, a hurricane made landfall near Pensacola. The plant at Barracks and Main was battered by 120 mph winds and lost one of its stacks before the 9.5-foot storm surge finally extinguished the boilers. Southeastern sent 600 workers from Gulf Power's sister companies to replace the thousands of chestnut poles that had been wrecked by the storm, and full electric service was restored more than two months later on November 10. By year's end, a 110,000-volt line connected Flomaton to Pensacola via a substation in Brentwood; the Allis-Chalmers steam generator at the Main Street plant was put on standby, and Gulf Power would rely on imported energy for the next 39 years.
In 1929, Southeastern Power & Light merged with a New York-based Hodenpyl, Hardy & Company, forming a new parent company called Commonwealth & Southern. Gulf Power deemed the streetcar system they had inherited from the Pensacola Electric Company a money-losing endeavor and discontinued service in 1931; those assets were eventually sold to Pensacola Transit, Inc. in 1945. The 1930s saw expansion of electrical service to rural areas of the Florida Panhandle, despite the financial hard times of the Depression, and by 1939 Gulf Power had 17,555 customers.
The Pensacola generating facility (later named for company president James F. Crist) brought its first generating unit on-line on January 1, 1945, with a capacity of 22,500 kilowatts. Meanwhile, Commonwealth & Southern had been dissolved in compliance with the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935, and in 1947 Gulf Power was acquired (along with three other former C&S subsidiaries) by the recently incorporated Southern Company.
- Francis B. Carter (1926-1928)
- Thomas W. Martin (1928-1931)
- Robert W. Williamson (1931-1935)
- Eugene A. Yates (1935-1948)
- James F. Crist (1948-1955)
- Lansing T. Smith, Jr. (1955-1961)
- Robert L. Pulley (1961-1964)
- Clyde A. Lilly, Jr. (1964-1968)
- Robert F. Ellis, Jr. (1969-1978)
- Edward L. Addison (1978-1983)
- Douglas L. McCrary (1983-1994)
- Travis J. Bowden (1994-2002)
- Thomas A. Fanning (2002-2003)
- Susan N. Story (2003-2010)
- Mark A. Crosswhite (2011-)
Gulf Power Company's prices are set by the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC), which must approve any rate decreases or increases. Gulf Power current rates are well below the national average.
- gulfpower.com – Official site
- "A Tradition of Service: Gulf Power Company, 1926-2001." Gulf Power Corporate Communications Department, 2001.